When I got to Hollywood, I had nothing. I also didn’t have any problem finding an apartment because a guy with a pug is almost considered a safe bet. Neither of us looked like we were going to bring the bar home at closing time. However, I have done that in the past!
Things were looking up for me. New place… new life… a new chance to start over. Things were not that rosy for Shmuli, the pug. Realizing he needed a friend as much as I did, I went to the only source I knew to solve his problem…. Craigslist! Did I mention I’m always broke, so Craigslist is like Macy’s for me.
One day, I found the solution… An ad for a 6-month-old pug about 30 miles from my apartment. The terms were perfect, bring $300.00 in cash and leave with the dog. There were no papers, no certifications, no food or bowl or collar or name… just come and get it!
What is it about pugs? People put them on the “reduced for quick sale” table and hope someone will take the things. At least, that’s what I’ve experienced.
MJ & I drove for what seemed an eternity in Los Angeles traffic to buy Shmuli a new friend… so if he turned out to be the Tasmanian devil and it utterly despised me… I didn’t care… I was buying that dog.
Dude.. I was not prepared for my future!
The GPS sent us to a forgettable neighborhood on an ugly street and an even uglier house. It was one of those 1940s one story places with a crappy chain link fence and a gate with a huge aluminum “G” on it… I suppose the “G” family lived there in the past.
Everything about the place sucked. As I got to the gate, an Asian woman met me at her “G” spot and asked for the money then said she’d be right back. There was no meet and greet… this was a “no return” dog, and she wasn’t interested in conversation. This felt like the old days when you had to go to the shitty neighborhood to buy weed from a guy who kept it under his couch… I was having flashbacks.
In a few minutes, the woman returned with the cutest dog I’d ever seen. My dog Shmuli is cute because he’s so ugly… this dog was cute because he was cute. The woman explained it was left in the yard by a previous tenant who was deported back to China. It was never allowed in the house and would run away if given an opportunity. She didn’t like dogs and especially this one because it would not heed to her commands. The look in her eye told me she felt sorry for me… the look in Shmuli’s eye (he only has one) was excitement.
On the sidewalk, in front of the ugly house, Shmuli had made a friend. I’d never seen my pug actually excited about anything. This was a monumental moment and I didn’t care how untrained the dog was … I wasn’t going to break Shmuli’s heart!
Realizing this beast had no name I had to come up with something cool… Shmuli is named after my cool Rabbi in Jacksonville, Florida… Rabbi Shmuli Novack, a guy of great importance in my life. I thought it only fitting to name the new dog, “Kooli”… it rhymed with Shmuli, and I thought both he and the Rabbi were cool. I have a hard time thinkng too far out of the box!
This is where all the cuteness ends… I’d just purchased the Anti-Christ and moved it into my apartment.
First, Kooli is not a puppy… he is a midget! He’s like Verne Troyer, the actor who played Mini-Me… you have no idea how old he is and it doesn’t matter because you just can’t help wanting to pick him up and hold him.
I’ve learned that a dog will pee on things to mark its territory or find its way home or leave a message for other dogs that they are new in town and love long walks on the beach and have no sexually transmitted diseases… so “let’s meet and see where it goes”. Pee is like Facebook or Match.com for dogs… it’s the polite thing to do. Poop, on the other hand, is just rude. Poop is poop, and that’s all I’ve got to say about that.
When we got Kooli home he peed on everything in the place……….. everything! There was nothing I could do to stop the dog from raising a leg and baptizing everything on the 8th floor of our apartment. I tried a trainer, books, YouTube videos, crate training, Pavlovian therapy, diapers, pull-up pug pee pants, pads, shock collar, scheduled outdoor pee breaks to the same spot and a vet. Nothing and I mean nothing was going to fix this dog. Yelling didn’t help, and praising didn’t help anything.
What made the situation worse is it only peed on my stuff. I’m not exaggerating … ONLY my stuff! If I got up from the sofa, it peed on my cushion, if I got out of bed, it peed on my pillow, if I ate in front of the table, it peed on the coffee table. One day I was walking into my home office, and the dog was in my chair attempting to pee on my computer keyboard. How much pee can a pug possibly hold… the thing is like a camel!
Kooli never lets me out of his sight. I’m convinced he thinks I’m going to steal something. The dog not only keeps me under 24-hour surveillance, but he also has to touch me. No matter where I am some part of his body must be touching mine. It’s creepy and drives me nuts.
I finally took Kooli to a Hollywood Pet Nephrologist (kidney doctor) to see if he could help and learned a few things. There was nothing physically wrong with Kooli other than the fact he’s deaf. His lack of hearing explained why he never seemed offended by the profanity I spewed at him. It also explained why he always felt a need to touch me. Touching was his way of sensing my reactions. It was his Helen Keller moment. I also learned Kooli has no sense of smell.
The doctor broke an ammonia ampule in front of him; the kind used when people faint and got no response. I’m sure if he could smell he’d appreciate the hell he’s created around him…
Kooli doesn’t hate me. Kooli has made some bizarre bond with me and is sending out his message that we’re some team. He’s never quite sure what is going on around him, but he wants me to know that he’s there, and he plans on staying no matter what life throws at us. I get it now… I still hate it, but I get it.
I am a damaged person; I know there are many others out there reading this. We seem always to find one another and are drawn to each others experiences, seeking understanding and hope. We get each other, and the joys and travails of our lives, a secret, unacknowledged world. We have secret codes, winks, and shrugs. They all say the same thing: I know. I met one at the gym the other day, he smiled at me and shook his head. I knew.
Kooli is a damaged soul traveling in a world he doesn’t understand… but for some reason, he identifies with me. He knows when I’m upset or happy or lonely. Kooli is Kooli… nothing more and nothing less. There’s a certain comfort in imperfections… they don’t always smell like a bed of roses… but eventually, you realize nothing that’s going to last forever does.